The mother of a terminally ill boy allegedly murdered by his father
told a jury today that her son was "strong" and that she felt her
husband was intolerant about the care he needed.
Andrew Wragg, 37, smothered his son Jacob, 10, with a pillow as he
slept on July 24 last year. The former SAS soldier denies murdering
Jacob, who suffered from the rare degenerative disease hunter
syndrome, but yesterday admitted manslaughter on the grounds of
Today, on the second day of his murder trial at Lewes crown court,
Wragg's estranged wife Mary, 41, told the court that when Jacob was a
baby, her husband had said he would put a pillow over the boy's face
if he was "suffering too much".
Philip Katz QC, prosecuting, asked if Mrs Wragg agreed with her
husband's attitude. She said: "I did not agree. My attitude was to
get on with caring for Jacob and to make the most of what we had."
Speaking of the day Jacob was killed, Mrs Wragg described scenes of
happy and normal family life with her two sons George, aged seven,
and Jacob. She told how Jacob spent his last day watching his
favourite videos before going to a local fair. Later the same day,
the boys' father, smothered the sleeping Jacob with a pillow.
Wragg dialled 999 to say he had killed Jacob at the family home in
Worthing, West Sussex, claiming the death was a "mercy killing".
But Mrs Wragg told the jury of nine women and three men: "He was
strong. He was able to take into account what he did and wanted to
do. He chose his own lunch at the fair through a mixture of lip-
reading and signage. He even kicked off a shoe because he was getting
annoyed with looking at one stall.
"He had been up and running between the kitchen and the bedroom in
the morning, stealing biscuits from the biscuit barrel ... after the
fair he came home and sat in his room watching more TV. He was active
and strong. He was happy. He was just Jacob."
Mrs Wragg, who clutched a baby's dummy and pictures of the child as
she spoke, told how the defendant went out drinking and seemed
reluctant to look after the boys in the days before the killing.
She had met the defendant 16 years ago in Worthing while he was in
the Merchant Navy and she was working in pub management for
Whitbread. Later the couple moved to work and live at a pub in
Colchester, Essex, a garrison town where Wragg later joined the army.
When Jacob was born on November 23 1993, Wragg was undergoing
training to become a member of the SAS in Hereford.
The court heard how the birth was normal but that Jacob began to have
monthly coughs and colds for which he was later sent for tests and
diagnosed with hunter syndrome. Wragg took leave from the army to
join his wife as it became clear that Jacob would not live beyond his
20s and would become deaf, dumb and blind.
Mrs Wragg became pregnant again and on discovering the unborn child
was also carrying the disease was advised to have a termination. The
court was told how, after the abortion, the couple's relationship
began to fall apart.
Mrs Wragg said the defendant lost his SAS badge following "an
incident" in Harrogate and left the army, taking a job in
Northampton. At the same time, Mrs Wragg moved to Worthing to be
nearer her husband's family.
Mrs Wragg said: "He got very stressed out. He got very cross with the
doctors and nurses if they were not doing things in a certain way. He
just disliked hospitals and ill people."
When Wragg returned from Iraq in July 2004, after three and half
months working as a security guard, he did not go home straight away.
Mrs Wragg said: "It was down to him as and when he felt like visiting
us. I could not say I could call on him to provide childcare or
financial support. He did take Jacob swimming sometimes but he was
not very tolerant of doing family things together."
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.
Press Association Tuesday March 1, 2005